TV viewing time and TV advertising since the outbreak of COVID-19


After 8 weeks since the start of the “corona crisis” TV rates are still much higher than usual. News broadcasts dominate top ratings lists and the press conferences of prime minister Mark Rutte and his outbreak management team are real blockbusters with over 5 million viewers on NPO1 each time.

TV viewing trend corona covid-19 advertising

Viewing time now at almost 3 hours per day average

The main news broadcasts “Journaal 20 uur” (NPO1) and “Half 8 Nieuws” (RTL4) had over 40% extra viewers on average each broadcast during the lockdown in April 2020 compared to April last year. Our “National Remembrance Day” broadcast on May 4 with the speech of king Willem-Alexander was a big hit and reached 4.7 million live TV viewers. These spectacular ratings resulted in a market share of 28% for NPO1 in April and a 90% reach of the total Dutch population (13 years +, source: SKO).

Source: SKO TV viewing rates, audience: 13 years +

Many new programs are still being produced. Broadcasters and TV producers adapt flexibly to the (im)possibilities in the “Corona era”, this of course within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and RIVM.

Studio programs are without a live audience such as “M”, “Op1”, “Jinek”, “Beau”, “All You Need Is Love”, “Voetbal Inside”, “Tot Zo Ver” and“ Het Zijn Net Mensen”. On-site programs such as “Front Berichten”, “Hart In Actie”, “Herman Helpt een Handje” and “Floortje Blijft Thuis” respond naturally to the Netherlands during this crisis.

With these adaptions they are still capable of broadcasting new and interesting TV programs for their viewers.  


Growth in all audiences

As always the older target group (55+) watches a lot of TV, on average 273 minutes a day. This is more than half an hour a day more than in the same period in 2019. Target group aged 40-54 years watch an average of 3 hours a day, this is a growth of 17 minutes a day. Younger target groups (13-24 years and 25-39 years) watch linear TV much less. But still, the target group aged 13-24 has an increase in viewing time of 9%. Viewing time for target group 25-39 years remains stable.

Source: SKO TV viewing rates, audience: 13 years +


20% less TV advertising

As a large part of advertisers paused their campaigns or lowered their investments in the crisis, there was about 25% less TV advertising in April. From week 16 we see a growth in the number of advertisers on TV, this resulted in more advertising but still about 20% less than same period last year.

Source: SKO TV viewing rates, audience: 13 years +


Our prediction for summer and beyond

The unexpected cancellation of Euro 2020 (football) and the Olympic Games will have a significant impact on broadcaster NPO. By continuing to focus on news and current affairs, together with new programs (“Hello Goodbye”, “Max Vakantieman”, “DNA Onbekend” and the new serie “Papadag”), they try to accommodate this. Much is expected from the new series of the popular quiz “De Slimste Mens”, which will entertain a mass audience on NPO2 every day for 7 weeks. This all is complemented by compilations and reruns of successful programs.

Picture: De Slimste Mens (Quiz)

Also broadcasters RTL and Talpa will continue to air newly produced programs as well, next to film premieres and new episodes of series in addition to the usual summer reruns. We therefore expect that the viewing figures on the popular Dutch channels RTL4, RTL5, SBS6, Veronica and Net5 will be maintained.

Some big brands will advertise much less during this eventless summer than originally intended. Our expectation is that after the summer (only when the virus threat is less – let’s hope) advertisers will return to their normal TV advertising strategies (and some will even invest more). Till that time there will be a discount on TV advertising costs of about 10% to 15%.

Advertisers can claim their SOV the coming months (when possible) and have a better long term position for their brands before prices are back to normal. Because of the low clutter in TV advertising and the high viewing rates this can be a big and cost efficient opportunity for advertisers. But most important for advertisers is to have the most honest communication as possible.     

By Maurice Neeskens

TV viewing trend corona covid-19 advertising
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